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After the game last night, Byron Scott talked about making line-up changes again. This inevitably led to me staring at my computer this afternoon for about an hour trying to think of what line-up changes could possibly better the Cavs chances of winning their next game. I came up with nothing, outside of maybe taking Anderson Varejao and his broken wrist to one of those miraculous touch you and your healed preachers parading around at 3 am on televisions everywhere.
That might not work though, and Anderson might not come back for another couple weeks at the earliest. He said yesterday that he feels better, but he still can't grip a basketball. I could never grip a basketball, but I'm not a seven foot NBA post player. The two other seven footers the Cavaliers currently employ can grip basketballs, but they are not NBA post players who deserve NBA minutes though unfortunately. Unless of course you're related to Ryan Hollins and/or Semih Erden and therefore think they do. So what's left is the gaping hole at the Center position, that both Ryan and Semih couldn't combine to fill even if the Cavs petitioned for 6-man starting five and announced them both at Center to start the next game.
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It took me all of yesterday to get over that last shot from Anthony Parker on Saturday night. The first time he took and missed that buzzer beater against the Celtics I understood it. I defended the fact that he took it, and gave him a pass for missing. Doc Rivers only left Anthony Parker open in that 86-83 loss, and Kyrie Irving was covered by everybody. AP didn't really need to take that last shot on Saturday night though. He didn't really need to be on the court to be honest, but I don't even feel like getting into all that. With 3.4 seconds left, and Kyrie curling around the top of the key WIDE OPEN ready to go Kyrie Irving, he should've been able to receive a pass and add to his legacy. Instead, AP bricked another one, and I just hope that he's now officially crossed shooting buzzer beaters to tie or win NBA games off his bucket list forever. I can't watch that again.
Tonight what we will watch though, is the Cavaliers match-up with arguably my favorite frontline outside of Cleveland in all the League. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are beasts. They're underrated, they're old-school bigs, and they will cause a ton of problems for the Anderson Varejao-less Cavaliers tonight. The Jazz are sputtering, having loss 7 of their last 10 and fallen below .500 in the process (17-19), but they will still put better players out on the court tonight than the Cavaliers will. Millsap just went for 24 in their last loss to Dallas, and he's averaging 16 and 9 for the season. Jefferson is averaging 19 and 9, and he will destroy Semih Erden and/or Ryan Hollins tonight most definitely. Hopefully Samardo Samuels plays, because he's the Cavaliers best chance against these two dudes in my humble opinion.
That said, the glass is kinda half full though with these Jazz coming to town. They are really, really bad on the road this season. By that I mean they are 3-13, which could maybe give the Cavaliers a chance to snap this 5-game losing streak they are currently on. The Cavs will need big games from Kyrie Irving as well as Antawn Jamison in order to do so tonight - yes, Antawn Jamison. Somebody has to score here, and the Cavaliers will need to put some offensive pressure on the Utah frontline, so maybe Jamison can do that. After Big Al and Millsap, they rotate in Derrick Favors who scored 14 last time out along with Enes Kanter. Kanter only averages 5 points per game on the season though, so maybe Tristan goes off for a big night and dominates him too.
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ORDER CAVS ZINE 2 ONLINE NOW!
Fresh off the printing press. The Bible of Cavs Fandom.
I like to think I'm cheering for the ethos of "Tonight's the Night". Remind yourself what that is daily, by spinning that Michael Stanley Flexi that comes with each copy of Cavs Zine 2!
Starting NOW, you can order a copy of Cavs Zine 2 online using this link:
It's still free (For Cavs Fans), but you have to pay $3 for shipping and handling. I tried to do mailing myself with issue 1, but it wasn't exactly an organized effort and things didn't get done the right way. Our friends at Chunksaah records - obviously Heartland Rock fans - are mail order experts. Fill out the form, pay the $3 for the postage, handling and to support the job of the expert who records your information and puts your name and address on the label, then sit and stare at your mailbox and wait for Cavs Zine 2: The Bible of Cavs Fandom.
GET CAVS ZINE IN PERSON
There's two places you can get Cavs Zine 2 in person for free right now.
1. Mullarkey's Irish Pub in Downtown Willoughby.
To quote Mr. Bowers: "If you don't know where Mullarkey's is, you better ask somebody. Or, you can click on this link here which will tell you Mullarkey's is located on the corner of Erie and Second Street in the heart of Downtown Willoughby, just east of Cleveland." Go up to the bartender, a Cavs fan like yourself, and ask for a copy. It's not like they're sitting out where any asshole can grab them all, take them back to LRMR headquarters to try and figure out how to buy us all off.
2. Blue Rock Cafe in Hudson.
I'm told if you go up to the bar at the Blue Rock Cafe and say you know Cavs Zine writer Ben Cox, you may not only walk out with a free Cavs Zine, but also a brewski. It might make sense to plan on staying a while and catching a rock and roll show. Also they have an open mic night, so you might want to brush up on your Heartland Rock anthems and show em what you got.
LIMITED TO 300 COPIES. GET ONE ASAP. THEY WILL GO FAST.
I timed my walk up to the Q last night to coincide perfectly with a torrential downpour. Though I walked in completely drenched, I do so both willingly and hopefully nonetheless. Kyrie Irving was about to match-up for the first time ever with Derrick Rose, maybe. I knew Irving was a game-time decision by then, but maybe he'd play, I thought. Only he didn't, just like the last time when Kyrie did go and Derrick sat injured during his previous trip to Cleveland. This time Irving would eventually not dress, as a result of a flu-type bug he caught down in Orlando, and for the rest of my night I'd go from being water-logged to simply damp for no good reason.
I did catch up with D-Rose after the game though, which was cool, and below is that video I shot with my IPhone from Verizon Al. D-Rose talked about Kyrie a little bit afterwards anyways when prompted too:
I wasn't actually rolling tape for the best part of that video either unfortunately. After completely annihilating the Cavaliers, there wasn't too much to really ask Rose about. As he walked through the locker room, towards the media, Derrick actually stopped and said real politely to the 7 or 10 people: "Do you guys want to talk?". Everyone, including myself, started pulling out their recorders or whatever and waited for somebody to ask a question. Awkward pause ensued, nobody said anything. Rose then smiled, kinda started laughing, and then said, "Does anybody want to start?" I started laughing myself, couldn't think of anything to say, then finally somebody asked the first question. Derrick Rose is the coolest, is what I walked out of there thinking. Maybe next time I'll ask him something.
A limited number of CAVS ZINE 2's will be made available to the public on a first come, first serve basis starting tomorrow (Saturday) at Mullarkey's Irish Pub in Downtown Willoughby. If you don't know where Mullarkey's is, you better ask somebody. Or, you can click on this link here which will tell you Mullarkey's is located on the corner of Erie and Second Street in the heart of Downtown Willoughby, just east of Cleveland.
I will only be dropping off between 30 and 32 copies tomorrow afternoon as a heads up. They will be back behind the bar too, I'm not leaving them out for just anybody to grab one. The idea is to make them available for CAVS ZINE enthusiasts specifically, so in order to get one, you need to ask the bartenders. Politely say something like: "Hey, can I get a copy of Cavs Zine 2 please?" I will do my best to make sure everyone knows where I put the box of Cavs Zine's, and if you have any questions while you're there, just hit me up on Twitter.
Mullarkey's Irish Pub in Downtown Willoughby will be open on Saturday at 4pm, Sunday at 7pm, and Monday thru Friday they will also be open from 4pm on.
In the first six quarters immediately following the All Star Break, the Cavaliers had outscored their opponents 144-135. They'd lose to the Celtics by three on Tuesday though, and then get their doors blown off by the Knicks in the next two quarters on Wednesday.
After leading in New York by as many as 17 points late in the first half, the Cavaliers would be outscored 71-42 in the second half, and lose their 3rd straight game overall. The Knicks moved to 18-18 with the win, and that record's good for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are now 13-20, after losing 6 of their last 10, and just as soon as those playoff whispers started to become audible they've been shushed even quicker.
The good news is Tristan Thompson is playing his best basketball of the season right now. In the last six games, Tristan's averaging 10.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per night. He's only needed 24 minutes per game to post those numbers too, and he only needed 16 minutes to register a double / double against the Hornets just prior to All Star Weekend. That dunk he had in the first half on Wednesday came off a nice post move also, and here's hoping he continues trending upward as the season moves on.
Whether he ends up getting traded or not, Ramon Sessions just turned in a pretty solid month of February. He's averaging 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds on the season, and during this past month he bested each one of those categories with averages of 12, 7, and 4 in 29 minutes per night. Sessions also connected on 12 three pointers during the month of February, and as a reminder, he made 13 total in the 4 years he played coming into this season. There's essentially nothing more Ramon can do to max out his trade value here heading into the March 15th deadline, so we'll see what happens.
The opportunity to watch Kyrie Irving square off against Derrick Rose on Friday in Cleveland is still fun regardless of record. Thirty-three games into his NBA career, Kyrie Irving is averaging 18.5 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. As mentioned, his team is 13-20. Through Derrick Rose's first thirty-three games, he averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 assist, and 3.6 rebounds. Rose's Bulls were 14-19 at that point too, one game better than Kyrie's Cavaliers. Last time the Bulls were in town they crushed the Cavaliers without Rose in the line-up. So this time, it'll obviously be even more of a challenge. I have a feeling Irving holds his own against the reigning MVP though.
It had to be difficult for the guys who were down at All Star Weekend to play last night. It was hard for me to even sit there. For some reason I was sore, really tired, and didn't make it much past halftime. I did catch the fourth quarter at my house though, after I left at the break, and really thought Anthony Parker's shot was about to fall when it left his hand. If he was three feet behind the three point arc, instead of four, it maybe would've. Straight on, front rim, Cavs lose by three.
The game was sluggish on both sides, and that's about what I expected. Doc Rivers made the right calls down the stretch by fouling with the Cavaliers down three, grinding out those last few seconds, and they completely took Irving out of the last play. He had no chance to be a hero that time, and that was all Doc. Nothing the Cavaliers could've done. I saw some people complaining on Twitter about Parker getting that last shot, but the reason he got it was because he was the only one the Celtics left open.
Tristan Thompson had another productive night though, and he has now double / doubled in three of his last four games. Last night was also his second straight with at least ten points and ten rebounds. Kyrie was a little sloppy with the ball down the stretch (#nitpick), where he turned it over the only two times he did all game, but he still finished with 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting along with 3 assists and 4 rebounds too. Tristan's double / double checked in at 13 points and 10 rebounds. So now the Cavaliers head to MadiLin Square Garden.
It will be an interesting game tonight to say the least. From the Cavaliers side, it'll be fun to watch Kyrie Irving match-up with Jeremy Lin. As much as I like Lin, love his story, and find it to be honestly inspirational (#realtalk) on some levels, I expect Kyrie to dominate him. Jeremy is good, but Irving is way better, it's not close.
From the Knicks side, it'll also be interesting to watch Carmelo try to fit in with Lin and this Knicks squad too. Since returning to play alongside Jeremy over the last three games, Carmelo Anthony is 18 of 47 from the floor (38%). In those three games he's scored 11, 15, and 19, and his Knicks are 1-2 during that 3-game set. If the Cavaliers can disrupt that chemistry even more tonight, cause the Knicks to fall to 1-3 since Anthony's return, I would find that to be thoroughly amusing.
It would also go a long way towards that playoff push the Cavs were talking about, assuming they're serious about that. They kinda need to get this one, then get hot, and inch that 13-19 record back closer to five hundred as soon as they can. More on all that though following the game.
I had a great trip to Orlando for All Star Weekend in the event anyone out there was interested to know that. I had never been to an ASW before, and the overall scale of the events off the court, surrounding the games and competitions, were simply way bigger than I thought they'd be. I wrote a few articles for SLAM Online in coverage of the weekend, primarily from the back seat of our rental car as we zipped from one location to the next, and below are those links as a heads up.
* Superstar Experience: Recapping a whirlwind trip through All Star Weekend
* NBA Cares All Star Day of Service: Where Marc Gasol and Kevin Love lay sod, and LaMarcus Aldridge helps the Commish install a mailbox
* The Air Jordan 2012 Flight Lab: Featuring Jadakiss and an incredible experience with the Air Jordan 2012
Bill Nagel put together a solid piece here at Stepien Rules this weekend too, and here is that link as well if you missed it. I also mentioned this to 92.3 FM's Joe Lull when he had me on his show this past Sunday, as well as the Big Timers Will Burge and TJ Zuppe at ESPN 850 when they had me on their Saturday morning show, but I feel it bears repeating: Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson were the talk of the weekend down there in Orlando. Swear.
I'm not allowing my rooting interests to influence that comment at all either. They really were. The thing is, the Cavaliers haven't had any nationally televised games this season. None. So basically, as simple as this sounds, the vast majority of the NBA community outside Cleveland hasn't seen those two guys play at all in the League yet. When they did on Friday night though, those two guys killed it. There was definitely a nice vibe down there in FLA with regards to Cleveland and the Cavaliers as a result too, and I appreciate those two guys for making that possible.
In other big news, Cavs Zine 2 is dropping shortly. Here are some details on that from the Cavs Zine Editor and Chief, as well as an update from the I Go Hard Now camp, who collectively dropped some heat in CZ2 as well. We will have more on the Cavs Zine 2 release coming soon, and I'll be back tomorrow to talk about whatever happens in tonight's game down at the Q. Getting ready to head there shortly.
Kyrie, the world. World, Kyrie Irving. In a way the fact that this was his first true national spotlight just about sums up the expectations of young Kyrie Irving coming into this season's shortened campaign. He was billed as the safest pick of the draft. The guy least likely to bust out but also one with a ceiling of "very good player" according to many. The first overall pick who lost any buzz due to the lockout and moved the meter to the tune of zero scheduled nationally televised games this season. Then there's Tristan who the picture would aptly depict as "our other pick." The guy in the background. A guy who, when drafted, sent Cavs fanatics rushing to draft guides. He didn't exactly get the Donovan McNabb treatment on draft night but that was only because there were no cameras broadcasting Cleveland living rooms and pubs.
While my intention was to digest the season's first half and write a review on the Cavs as a whole looking back, Friday night changed that. Watching our two rookies last night brought my thoughts full circle back to my attitude about the Cavs season that I had the day after Christmas. That being, the season will be a failure or a success based solely on the potential displayed from Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Kids that aren't old enough yet to grab a brew with at Mullarkey's but have the weight of Cavs fans everywhere to give us hope for a future sooner than any of us imagined a year ago.
So what do we know now? What we know is that Kyrie Irving's ceiling was greatly underrated. What a lot of pundits thought he could become he really already was. He right now is an All Star caliber PG. What we saw from him last night was amazing. The pride that the Cavs fans lost in the summer of 2010 swelled back with every one of his eight three pointers, with his back door alley-oop, with his nine assists. Obviously this was a defenseless exhibition but it made people nationwide notice him. They noticed Kyrie Irving therefore they noticed the Cavs. They noticed what Cleveland has growing. He was able to draw attention to us again on the big stage just like our last #1 pick did.
The Cavaliers lost to the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday to close out their first half of the season despite another rally late in the fourth quarter. Kyrie didn't shoot it awesome in that game, but he did drop ten dimes. Ryan Hollins played almost the whole fourth quarter, Gody got out there a little bit, nobody played particularly good, and the Cavs basically looked gassed. So they lost, fell now to 13-18, and the All Star Break is upon us. While the Cavaliers are technically forty-seven percent of the way through the first half of their season, we're going to round up and call it the halfway point because everybody else does.
That said, below are my thoughts on the current state of all things Cleveland Cavaliers one half of one season through the Kyrie Irving Era.
Cavs record is a little bit better than I expected: The record I predicted on both Joe Lull's 92.3 The Fan Preseason Roundtable show, as well as on these blogwaves, was that the Cavaliers would finish this Lockout shortened season 23-43, which would be good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Currently, the Cavs are on pace for 4 more wins than I predicted (27 actually with a .419 winning percentage thus far) and they are one full game ahead of the 10th place Milwaukee Bucks for 9th place out East. They did a good chunk of this without Anderson Varejao too which nobody expected they could. Although, at the same time, I'd also argue that nobody expected Andy to come out and play like an All Star Center this season either surrounded by so much youth and inexperience, but he did do that too. When exactly Anderson does come back, and what kind of groove he can get himself back into, is going to go a long way to determining where the Cavaliers finish this thing off. Playoffs are possible right now, Cavs are two games out, and I think the opportunity to play meaningful games in that respect during the second half of this season, at least for the early part of that, will be very beneficial for this rebuilding effort moving forward.
Kyrie Irving is having arguably the best rookie season of any Cavaliers rookie ever: I knew Kyrie Irving would be good, we all did. Well, mostly everybody did, but that's not the point. This kid is not just good though, he's special. We thought he'd be a good player, but I'm not sure how many people thought we'd be calling him a superstar 31 games into his rookie season. He is a superstar, I think he's a top-5 PG right now, and at worst he's in the top-8 currently. I've lobbed things out there in response by saying he's the best rookie the Cavaliers have ever had, and I don't mean to do so for effect or to take any sort of shot at the last guy picked number one by these Cavs either. Irving's season so far is simply comparable to LeBron's rookie campaign at worst. Through 31 games in his rookie season, LeBron shot 42% from the floor, 31% from three, 77% from the FT line, and averaged 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. Kyrie Irving is shooting 47% from the floor, 41% from three, 85% from the FT line, and averaging 18.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. Kyrie's Cavs have 13 wins so far, and LeBron's had 10 at this same point. Carlos Boozer then was better than anybody Kyrie has around him right now too, but I'll get more into that point later on down the road.